20 August 2014
I wouldn't by lying if I told you the last couple of months have been quite difficult, and I'd like to tell you why.
The last couple of months for me have been a trial of understanding. All summer I've been trying to understand the reason the City of Windom could possibly think the pallet patio behind River City Eatery is a nuisance. Is anyone else having this problem of understanding? You know, I've been doing a lot of thinking this summer, reflecting on what I could have done differently through the process, what I could have done different during my years of wearing my heart on my sleeve when it comes to Windom, what the City could have done differently to prevent such stress on a local business owner. I've been reflecting on the decision I made almost effortlessly a little less than 10 years ago to return to my hometown of Windom to open my own business, especially a business many have told me are "impossible to start," "very difficult" and "when pigs fly" I would own and operate my own eatery in Windom. Never in all those years of trying to imagine all the different kinds of things I would have to deal with that would make this dream of mine "impossible" and "very difficult," did I think dealing with a Nuisance Violation from the City of Windom would be one of them.
Of course, the support I received from the community was indeed humbling. I was overwhelmed by support from the community and patrons of the pallet patio and River City Eatery alike. Although the summer was difficult because I often contemplated starting over in a little city that was more accepting of creativity, art, reusing and repurposing, and a city that was supportive of small business, especially a business that for the last 3 years has defied the odds of remaining open despite the negativity surrounding such a crazy endeavor. As I have made clear since the inception of this blog, I love Windom, so for me to seriuosly question why I decided to start my family and my business here was quite scary and stressful. You must know, community of Windom and patrons of River City Eatery, you are in fact the reason I would never leave my hometown, even when our city decision makers send me to the doghouse for trying to be a forward thinking business owner. For that, I THANK YOU!!!
In fact, because of you, I'm not going away. I will continue to raise my voice, to take pride in my community, to remain optimistic, to be active, and most importantly to be creative and resourceful because this is who I am. I have surrounded myself with people like Rachel Wilson. It is people like Rachel who help me realize why I chose to live in Windom and remain in Windom, and I would like to introduce you to her if you haven't already had the pleasure. Community of Windom, this is my dear friend, Rachel Wilson. She is the next generation, our possible legitimate rural future. She speaks wisely and with intention, and we must listen to understand her. Our future is giving us hints, and it is louder than a whisper. For a wise man plants a tree whose shade he knows he will never sit under. We must start planting trees of creativity because creativity can drive our economy, increase our quality of life, and maintain a legitimate rural existence.
Below is the Windom I love, the creative, full of possibility, young, vibrant and ready to keep our roots alive and well, but only if we are willing to accept the challenge to create the kind of community that is forward thinking, creative and progressive. This is also the kind of Windom that many folks of all ages are seeking, so when will we start to send out the invitations? Wouldn't it be nice to have more young folk like Rachel moving into our community, opening businesses, getting involved in our community, raising families, helping to create all the things that make our community wonderful?
" My favorite time of every year is late May when the warmer weather starts to show its face, flowers begin to bloom, and the anticipation for summer is nearly palpable.
Raised in Windom, I now attend a private college in the Twin Cities where I am studying journalism, rhetorical communication, and graphic design. Spending nine months out of the year in the Twin Cities, I attempt to take full advantage of what the metro has to offer, attending concerts, frequenting museums and farmers markets, and scouring vintage and thrift stores regularly.
It goes without saying that the Twin Cities has much to offer young, middle-aged, and older people alike. Internship, job, and entertainment possibilities at my fingertips, and still, I find myself craving my small-town roots.
Because of this, I’ve spent all of my college summers thus far at my parent’s home in Windom. In fact, I denied all work-related and internship opportunities in the Twin Cities this past summer to return to work and live in Windom. Though some coined it crazy, I knew a few months at home is exactly what I needed.
You see, I love Windom. I love talking about Windom. I love dreaming about Windom. I enjoy small town life. I enjoy seeing cars on the town-square and windows lit up with lights and smiling faces. I believe in small business. I believe in community pride. I adore my friends here in Windom—a group of creative, progressive, intelligent folk who embrace rural life. I adore the quaintness and closeness small-town life allows. And though society may contend that small towns are dying out, I think it’s the perfect time to grow our roots deeper, spread our wings farther, and cultivate a community that defies all the odds.
I write this as an encouragement to the community of Windom to cling to their small-town roots while allowing space for growth. Allow space for people to be creative. Allow space for people and things to entertain ideas and evolve. Allow space for people to dream aloud. Allow space for people to be vulnerable. Allow space for people to see the beauty of small-town life. Most importantly, allow space for people to realize that there is such a thing as a legitimate rural existence, and it is a beautiful thing.
Not all rural lives look the same. We need farmers, teachers, bankers, machinists, small-business owners, artists and so many more. But we all play a role in contributing our little, but significant piece to the community of Windom. I challenge you to continue to take pride in your small town. I challenge you to take ownership of this community and cling to the small-town roots that make Windom unique, while reaching beyond. I challenge you to dream alongside your neighbor and be the positive change in this community.
Surely, it was important that I go away (I’d recommend to almost anyone), but it may be even more important that I return someday. And I’m not alone. Countless young folk like me have an aching desire to return to small town America, but these communities cannot remain stagnant and expect to persist as a legitimate option for a younger population. I’m proud to call Windom home, and I care deeply about Windom’s success. It is a collective, community effort. Believe in your small-town and believe you alone are the difference. "
Posted by Mari Harries at 11:11 PM